Last time on "Let's Play Final Fantasy IV," we met Freddicante, the leg-baring, spandex-rocking, nipple-flashing Archfiend of Fire.
He trounced Edge the Ninja Prince of Eblan and swooshed off with his back to the party of adventurers and their assorted bows, lances, bigass swords and summons.
Fucks given? Zero.
(See this, Squeenix? Seriously. See this? Your final boss is usually BORING. This is why you don't kill off your minibosses like Gilgamesh, Rubicante and Jihl Nabaat prematurely.)
Afterwards, Cecil and friends offer to assist Edge in his quest for bloody vengeance. They are, after all, chasing the same dude, since Rubicante's guarding all the Crystals while Golbez is off combing yard sales looking for the last one to complete the set. Besides, Kain says bluntly, Edge has no chance MAKE HIS TIME 0f defeating Freddie singlehandedly.
Edge's gracious reply:
Rydia interrupts some mutual penis-waving with another "ENOUGH!" speech.
"First Tellah and Yang...and then Cid too. All of them.... all of them!"
Rydia didn't even witness Palom and Porom sacrificing themselves, or for that matter Tellah's death, although she saw him run off when he first took it into his head to avenge his daughter's death by...dying? But this has been Rydia's big cause ever since her Mum and village got destroyed. (In fact, at this point she's speaking for the player as well. The guest character body count in the past few FFs has piled so high that we're getting spin-offs like Dawn of Souls with parties consisting solely of
Edge has the ill grace to be somewhat abashed.
Edge decides he'll put up with sidekicks "just this once." Kain snarks back:
I imagine that Kain vs. Edge fanfic could be an entertaining carnival of snark. I'm also glad to see Kain exhibiting a spark of personality when he's not mind-controlled.
Edge becomes much more
Edge reminds me a little of Gippal. Although Gippal was never quite so cocksure.
That's my first impression too, Rydia. We'll see how it holds up.
Taking Freddicante's back door (AHEM) entrance into the Tower of Babil, we have another relaxing dungeon slog through DOOMITY DOOM monsters and eventually encounter the King and Queen of Eblan. Which is in no way suspicious.
Alas, this happy reunion unravels rapidly:
"Come with us, Edge."
"With you? Where?"
I've had parental visits like that, yep.
Apologies for the status effect that makes foes shadowy, but it's just too cute giving Kain the "Cry" augment. He weeps like a little girl (in the literal, not the sexist sense: the animation uses Porom's voice and gestures) and lowers enemy defenses.
Annnnd Edge finishes off his parents. Angst time!
Well, yeah. The bosses in this game are archfiends of hell, after all. And speak of the devil...
Why do I love Freddie so much?
Edge, needless to say, does not.
Rubicante says, "It wasn't me! I didn't do it!
"They shame me, as they grieve you."
This is the first we've heard of "Chimerae." In Greek, that means a hybrid monster combining several disparate animal parts. I'm not quite sure of the sense of it in FFIV. I gather that Baigan was one, too? Hard to say, but Dr. Lugae did introduce himself as the strategist of Golbez, so he could've been doing Hojo-like experiments in Baron as well. Once again, I'm grateful that Rosa was spared possession or experimentation before she escaped Castle Baron, although it would've upped Angst Up to 11.
Rubicante plays the worthy adversary schtick to the hilt: "I respect men like you. Men...of courage. But you are a slave to your emotions, and so will never know true strength. Such is the curse of Men."
This sets off
Freddie is at least mildly whelmed by Edge's newfound powers of Flood and Blitz.
"The dark powers shall not avail you, flame of— oh, wait, that's me."
Yes, it's totally stupid for a villain to heal his opponents before battle, but Rubicante is honorable and manly in spandex, so we'll forgive him his little eccentricities.
Darling! I thought you'd never ask!
Annnd we have another zany "Freddie flashes his legs" fight. Encore, encore!
Eventually we beat Freddie to a standstill, but he aten't ded, to quote Granny Weatherwax.
"I pray the day comes that we fight each other again." *FWOOSH*
All right, enough villain worship.
At this point Edge's seneschal and backup ninjas overtake us, feebly offering to help defeat Rubicante. Edge boasts, "It's already done," never mind that Freddie was suspiciously un-vanquished at the end of that boss battle.
Okay, so I need to stop being so hard on the boy. A glimmer of humility, that.
P.S. Edge's scarf. Starched, or a polka-dotted bow tie from the Archie McPhee catalog?
We pause for a brief backstory dump so that Edge can learn about Golbez.
I'm glad someone understands what's going on.
Edge is understandably flummoxed about the moon business. Latching onto the one bit of gobbledygook that makes any sense, he starts to go charging after Golbez, but Rydia reminds him that we're just here for the crystals.
Snerk. ("I'm the leader...which way did they go?")
We find the crystals in the next room. I pause to check character thoughts, in case anyone has any insights.
OH CECIL YOU DUMMKOPF.
*pats Cecil's bishie little head fondly*
Unlike every other FF so far, we can't actually walk up to crystals suspended over a hole, and we FALL IN IT.
This is NOT the Tower of Babil. It's the tower of Chutes and Ladders.
Blundering our way outside, we find an airship.
Edge dubs it The Falcon, but I am calling it The Rubber Chicken, which it strongly resembles from certain camera angles.
I see we've dropped down into the underworld again. We fly back to the dwarven stronghold to report our failure to King Giott.
The king assures us that the eighth crystal remains safely sealed in its cave, and that Golbez's efforts to breach its seal have proved fruitless so far. The key is a necklace currently being worn by Luca, the king's daughter. EXCELLENT security, I must say: the fate of the world hung around the neck of a four-year-old. What would be the only way to make it less safe?
That's right! Give the key to Cecil. And then send him to the Sealed Cave to retrieve the final Crystal from the one hiding place Golbez can't penetrate. This will end well, I'm sure.
First, we stop by the infirmary, where we've heard a cranky patient is resting. Huzzah! Cid aten't ded neither!
Edge ingratiates himself by asking, "Who's this old codger?"
Cid: "Who's this snot-nosed little brat?"
Pleasantries exchanged, Cid rouses himself long enough to pound his hammer on every part of Edge's new precious airship, ostensibly adding more shielding so that it can fly over the lava oceans between here and the Sealed Cave.
(Why is he hammering on the steering wheel?)
And away we go to— HEY WAIT, SIDEQUESTS!
In the "Sylph Cave" to the northwest, the floor is poisonous, and the Malboros look like giant crabs. Well, okay. I mean, we're already accepting the fact that dwarves can live down here despite the fact that one npc expressed abject horror at the idea of "blue oceans," implying he'd never seen water in its natural state — so of course this is where we find the token swampy vine dungeon, amidst the seas of molten lava.
Poor Cecil is the world's punching bag. I've given him "Draw Attacks," and for once the Malboro's Bad Breath targets only one party member instead of the whole group. So he spends this entire dungeon blind, mute, and a pig or frog. Also floating, since the floor is poisonous. I hope Rosa's medikit includes barf bags.
Deep in the cave we find Yang, who aten't dead either!
We can't wake him. So we leave him in the clutches of overzealous Sylphs.
Our next stop is a tiny island in the midst of the lava oceans whose floors are a scenic mix of molten rock and extremely fireproof spiderwebs.
Spiffy-looking, but unlikely.
The giant spiders in this dungeon use Earthquake (logically enough, real spiders shake their webs to entangle prey) which is next to useless since we all have Float to keep our toesies from burning. I wonder how Rydia exited this dungeon without White Magic to keep hers from burning to a crisp?
Eventually we reach the City of the Eidolons. As with so many early FFs, generi-monsters are hooded figures in cloaks, last seen (I think?) in the Sephiroth clones in FFVII.
Except that some look like Bombs or even Chocobos.
We putter around in the library, reading up on Eidolon meta, then head downstairs to the throne room. That's right, the king and queen of the Feymarch rule from beneath a library. How cool is that?
They, like all the Eidolons, greet Rydia warmly.
Naturally, in order to secure their aid, we have to duel each of them.
The queen promises to help Rydia. Alas, her Eidolon does less healing than Rosa's Prayer at this point, so I don't have much cause to call on her.
Fun contrast with Edge's reaction:
We also enlist the king's help. As usual, magic shapeshifting boss battle; here's Leviathan in his Eidolon form:
Again, I'm intrigued that Leviathan, Lord of the Waters, has become the chief Esper/Eidolon/Summons in place of Bahamut, and that Levi is now shaped like an eastern dragon rather than the ship-devouring primordial whale of ancient Near Eastern mythology.
Okay, okay, back on the Path of Plot Advancement. We head to the Sealed Cave, which reminds me vaguely of the Tomb of Raithwall. (Remember this 3D remake was released a year after FFXII, although it has much simpler graphics since it was designed for Nintendo DS).
I wonder why the four underworld crystals are all dark, as opposed to the overworld ones each being assigned an element?
I also wonder which of us is going to lug that Crystal back to the dwarves. Looks a bit heavy.
Cecil asks a shrewd question for a change:
Aaaaand the answer is alarmingly obvious.
How many FFs play the "your party is stupidly about to walk into a trap, and there's nothing you can do to stop it, mwhahaha!" game?
But first! The walls are closing in (again)! It's a Demon Wall! There was a lot of aggressive architecture in this dungeon, the first time (I think?) that FF started playing with that trope.
Yes, I'm oddly sentimental about recurring monsters and bosses. I first ran into these in FFX's Omega Dungeon, land of luscious level grinding, and I've had a soft spot for 'em ever since. Although boy howdy I could use Wakka's Stonetouch ball right about now. Nonetheless, we survive it.
So then this happens, to the surprise of no player with half a synapse to rub together.
Among the many good moogle-university discussions of FFIV, Sathari has a great bit of headcanon about how Rosa's use of Confuse, Berserk, and other messing-with-mind-and-body white magic makes her more sympathetic to Kain's predicament. She gets it. So she tries to help:
And for a moment it seems to work. Kain says he's in control of himself. Then he bowls over Cecil and takes the Crystal.
Edge is all, "An enemy spy — No wonder I never liked the guy!" And Cecil is all mopey about, "Why did Kain betray us again?" even though really, he should understand that Kain's not in control at this point.
Rosa picks up the clue ball:
I've been wondering that as well. I can only think that Kain's repressed resentment of playing second fiddle to Cecil, not to mention his thwarted yearnings for Rosa, make him psychologically vulnerable to whispers promising him what he wants and craves.
We return to King Giott of the Dwarves to report our latest failure. Congratulations, Cecil, you have now lost all the crystals to Golbez! Is there any way you can possibly atone for this screwup?
Lunar Whale, huh?
The king says that this...lunar whale thing... is related to Mysidia (like everything else). Sounds like it's time to pay another visit to Cecil's favorite place.
Cid mounts a drill on the Rubber Chicken so we can get back to the surface. He's got helpers now, freeing him up to scold Edge for bugging Rydia. (Not...my favorite ship. I guess Edge is snarky and funny and down-to-earth like Gippal, but if I were Rydia, I'd strangle him with her whip.)
As usual, when the end of the world is nigh and time is running out, it's time for...SIDEQUESTS!
We return to the dungeon under Baron Castle to visit with the king's ghost.
Another duel. Final Fantasy IV's Odin is disturbingly bug-eyed:
Not shown: Sleipnir, his horse, has been winnowed down to four legs from the eight traditional legs in Norse Mythology. In another few games he's going to be a hobby-horse.
We also pick up the Frying Pan of Badassitude from Yang's Wife, who is frustrated at his lengthy absence.
Speaking of thick skulls, Cecil once again flexes his awesome powers of deduction:
We'll assume that Rosa explained to him what to do with the frying pan by the time he reached Sylph Hideaway.
"W-what are you doing, you mindless brute?" asks one of the Sylphs, who seem to be very keen on keeping their decorative monk in Castle Anthrax.
Yang wakes up groggily, thinking it's his wife rousing him for training. He's keen to rejoin the party. However, Edge butts in saying that a wounded man has no place on the battlefield.
"And who might you be?"
Humility, Edge. Wouldn't hurt to give it a try.
In fact, Yang is still hurt, and the Sylphs insist on joining the party as a summons and fighting in his stead. Yang gives us a Brace augment for the road and consents to being coddled.
(Under the rules of Postmodern Fantasy, all fairies and sylphs must be feisty, bossy, or outright dangerous, never sweet).
Back on the Path of Plot Advancement, Mysidia's elder meets us and takes us up to the Tower of Prayer in the most DRAMATIC CUTSCENE IN THE WHOLE GAME.
I still can't make heads or tails of this prophecy, which King Giott of the dwarves also mentioned. It's something about Cecil turning into a paladin, and something about the airship we'll use to get to the moon (Rydia says the "Dragon's Maw" is actually the peninsula nw of Mysidia), but the details are obscure.
Dum dum dum dum DRAMATIC:
Sweeping camera angles...
Clouds and lightning and whirlpools and more mystic mumbo jumbo:
Ooo, ah, oh...
NEW AIRSHIP! Boss!
The Lunar ...Whale? That's the name of our final airship?
Rosa, Cecil: "..."
Me: *HOWLS WITH LAUGHTER*
Behold: Lunar Whale, Rubber Chicken.
For once, I find myself in total agreement with Edge's snark.
All right, once I finish picking myself off the floor, let's go do this.
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